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Holiday Fest filled with music, Santa and old-fashioned traditions

JACKSON -- With weekend temperatures expected to top 50 degrees and no snow in sight, area towns are looking to draw big crowds this weekend in celebration of the Christmas season.

In Jackson, activities like ice skating and sledding may be missing, but making a return are horse-drawn wagon rides through town on Saturday afternoon, and the first-ever Fort Belmont Old Fashioned Christmas on Sunday.

Sharon Kuehl, director of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, said people have been busy getting the town and the fort ready for the annual Holiday Fest, which begins Friday night with Jackson Health Care Foundation's Holiday Gala from 7 to 11 p.m., at the Jackson Golf Club. Performing during the evening are Dave Rowley and The Necterines, with a silent auction, wall of wine and beer and hors d'oeuvres. Tickets may be purchased from any JHCF Board member or at Bank Midwest or United Prairie Bank.

Numerous activities are on tap for Saturday, from Santa visits to Christmas caroling, fireworks and a pair of Grand Ole Opry-style country music shows.

Kuehl said there are approximately 35 vendors participating in a vendor fair, which will coincide with Santa's Workshop and Story Time, all at Riverside Elementary.

Several businesses are also participating in special events or promotions on Saturday as well. Bridget's Bucksnorts Brew Ha Ha & Grill will serve complimentary hot chocolate all day, beginning at 11 a.m., and several participating businesses will serve free soup from 4 to 5:30 p.m. or until gone Saturday. In addition, a Perks for Pets shopping promotion will encourage downtown shoppers to donate either cash or pet supplies to help support PAWS.

Sunday's activities at Fort Belmont begin at 1:30 p.m., with children's games on the grounds and in the buildings. Wood stoves in the farm house, church and museum will be turned on to help warm guests as they learn about the history of the Fort, enjoy performances by the Jackson County Central Madrigals and take in a rosemaling demonstration by Loy Ann Nasby.

"They are going to have cider and hot chocolate," Kuehl said. "At 4 p.m., there will be a church service at the Delafield Church."

A full list of Holiday Fest activities follows:


9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Pioneerland Gun Show, Lakefield Middle School.

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Gingerbread House Contest voting, Jackson County Library. (Entries accepted through Friday.)

9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Craft and Vender Expo, Riverside Elementary school gym.

9 a.m. to noon: Santa's Workshop, Riverside Elementary school cafeteria.

9:30 to 11:30 a.m.: Story Time, Riverside Elementary school music room.

10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Horse-drawn wagon rides on Main Street.

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Visits from Santa, Santa Land in Festival Park (north end of Second and Main streets).

Noon: Jackson County Central Carolers, by the clock tower downtown.

1 p.m.: Free movie matinee at the Historic State Theatre (continues each Saturday until Christmas)

1 to 4 p.m.: Free swimming for children ages 13 and younger, JCC School indoor pool.

2 p.m.: Opry Christmas Jackson-Style, JCC Performing Arts Center (Call 847-3891 for reserved seating.)

3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Kid's Christmas Bingo, American Legion Hall. (Bring a donation to the food shelf.)

5:30 p.m.: Lighted parade and light show, downtown. (Bring a donation to the food shelf.) Drawing for two sleds by the clock tower.

6 p.m.: Holiday Fest fireworks display, near Jackson City Hall.

7:30 p.m.: Opry Christmas Jackson-Style, JCC Performing Arts Center (Call 847-3891 for reserved seating.)


9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Pioneerland Gun Show, Lakefield Middle School

1:30 p.m.: Fort Belmont's Old Fashioned Christmas, ending with a service in the Delafield Church at 4 p.m.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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